Monday, November 21, 2005
This weekend I escaped from the electricity-challenged city of Brussels (see my "Bedlam in Brussels" posting) for a two day conference of the Libertarian Alliance held at the National Liberal Club in London. I always joke with my friends that "I always think I am a libertarian until I attend their conferences..............." but for the most part I am a libertarian but clearly not an anarcho-capitalist.
While on the Eurostar train to London I read the following front page banner headline, above the fold, in a British newspaper (Daily Telegraph) for Saturday, November 19th -
"Rookie WPC shot dead"
The story here is that two UNARMED women police officers responded to a "999 call" (911 in the USA) from a travel agency undergoing an armed robbery (Question - how much cash could be at a travel agent? Don't most trips get paid for via a credit card versus cash?) in Bradford, England. Nick Britten reported that the "raiders" (robbers) -- "......were confronted by the two unarmed officers and turned their guns on them before fleeing. It was unclear whether the officers were wearing protective clothing." The end result is that one of the officers was killed and her partner was wounded in the shoulder.
In a related article in the same newspaper, John Steele reported that -- "the majority (police officers) appears to prefer being unarmed, although the proportion who feel guns should be introduced has risen. Yesterday's murder is likely to increase the numbers in favour." Wow, quite a statement with no supporting statistics and any kind coupled with pure speculation -- where was the editor on this story??
Then on my return train from London to Brussels I read The Sunday Telegraph for November 20th (the very next day keep in mind!!) which has this headline --
"Clarke says law on tackling burglars should not change"
As an outsider looking in this was amazing timing for these two stories -- you have an unarmed police officer shot dead by thieves and the next day you have a statement from the UK Home Secretary (Americans -- think of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security merged into one with overall police powers) , Charles Clarke, refusing to amend current British law which allows -- "property owners to use only 'reasonable' force against burglars".
The combination of the unarmed police officer story and Mr. Clarke's refusal to tilt the balance to home owners in the case of breaking and entering situations leaves me concerned for the safety of my British friends. To counter this apparent imbalance in the law the same newspaper I mentioned here launched a reader campaign called;
"The Right to Fight Back" -- sorry no website exists just a "snail mail" address at:
Right to Fight Back
1 Canada Square
London E14 5DT UK
This campaign was launched due to the death of Robert Symonds, a London teacher killed in HIS HOME by a burglar last October.
I have consistently argued against the expansion of the police state but since there are plenty of "bad people" out there shouldn't we some obvious questions be posed?
1.) If the UK's 999 system knew the Bradford travel agency robbery included armed bandits shouldn't the two unarmed officers stayed at a safe distance until some firepower arrived?
2.) If your home is your "castle" should you be required to be "reasonable" with intruders set on stealing your possessions and/or harming your family?
3.) Do you know of any American newspapers currently or willing to launch citizen campaigns such as the "Right to Fight Back" ?
4.) Since the UK is the number one destination for American ex-pat workers and students in the world (the last time I read statistics on this about a year ago) shouldn't the US Department of State apply some diplomatic advice to Mr. Clarke's office regarding his definition of "reasonable" ?
Defend but don't offend?